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How can I learn to control my emotions when I don't even know what they are?

257 Answers
Last Updated: 04/20/2020 at 6:41pm
★ This question about Managing Emotions was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
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Shawn Wilson, LCSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I provide supportive counseling and psychotherapy. I utilize cognitive-behavioral and solution focused strategies to address client concerns. Personal coaching is available.

Top Rated Answers
Mortley88
August 8th, 2015 1:38am
It takes time and effort to expand your vocabulary of emotions. One of the best ways to learn to control your emotions is to try to talk them through with someone you trust. If you don't feel comfortable with that, try journaling and writing down your thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, talk to a listener here in 7 Cups - maybe they can make some suggestions about what emotions you're describing!
Christe515
August 8th, 2015 3:57am
My advice would be to seek professional help. I know it sounds like a default answer, but in my own personal experience it truly helps to talk to someone who has experience with dealing with these things. They are people you can trust, people who do not judge.
Anonymous
August 8th, 2015 4:18am
The doldrums of daily life are like waves in an ocean. We are taught to ride it out most of the time. Sometimes we lose our balance and emotions hit us. BAM! Sometimes this is so overwhelming we don't know what we are feeling or how to react. This is when we should focus on our breathing. In through our nose. Out through our mouth. Do this ten times. When you are done you should feel calm and it should be easier to figure out what you are feeling.
morphinesama
August 8th, 2015 9:07pm
When you can't place your emotions, it's best not to act upon them because meditating later may cause you to arrive at an alternative you could have taken. It's best to take out some time in solidarity and reflect on your feelings, consult with someone trustworthy and then arrive at a solution. Learn breathing exercises to control your impulse to react initially.
heavenDay24
August 9th, 2015 12:28am
Hello there :-) though your problem seems strange..it is actually quite common...we all at some point or the other ( sometimes often ) feel this way... :-) well actually...you have already..and unknowingly taken your first step towards finding an answer to this problem in your question itself- you yourself have said that " I don't even know what they are".You are just confused..so the first thing you have to do is to unwind and untangle thoughts and feelings ...Most probably at this point of time they are all mixed-up...so i would say the first thing you do now is 'TAKE A BREAK'...from everything...just for a day..one full day without any work or activities..a complete free-day..use this day to do the following: Now that you have one whole day just for yourself...the first thing you have to do is take a nice long and relaxing shower...after that you go straight to bed and sleep peacefully maybe for an hour or so...after you get up relax for a while ( if you want to relax in bed then that's even better)...then take a pen and a paper...and just start writing how you are feeling..write down anything and everything that comes to your mind at that point..for example "Im confused...want to let loose...im tired of being confused..". Then after you have written everything and you can write no more...take a deep breath and tear that piece of paper or burn it... And from there start your life again..this time with an aim...with a much more stable set of POSITIVE emotions..and as a more 'sorted out' person.. :-) ..you chose what you want to be and how you want to feel... :-) All the best :-)
SoothingWindAnna
August 9th, 2015 9:00am
Try to take some time to yourself. Journal, watch movies, eat good food. Get to know you. Taking time away from others can help you better understand you.
sunnyTree44
August 9th, 2015 5:59pm
Taking a step back, looking at a situation from outside of the box And listening to your own advice as if you were advising a friend
MyNameIsChloeJade
August 9th, 2015 9:04pm
It's incredibly difficult to understand let alone control emotions, especially because each emotion takes it's own path. But over time you will learn how to enjoy and deal with emotions individually with a series of experience and techniques if necessary.
anansiBoy
August 12th, 2015 12:48am
You open yourself to them completely. Explore them as you're going through them and ask yourself why you are feeling such. They may be harsh, but in my experience it has always been better to befriend them, and welcome them with open arms, so they won't be so harsh the next time around.
Anonymous
August 12th, 2015 1:36am
Before trying to control your emotions, it's important to first identify how you are feeling. This can be done several ways, like talking to a friend or writing down your thoughts. When you express your emotions, it gives you a better understanding as you are able to reflect back on what you've just said. Then you can ask yourself, why am I feeling this way? When did I start feeling this way? And pinpoint the source of those negative emotions. Understanding what you're feeling and the way you react to situations is the first step to learning to control your emotions.
cagedBirdsong
August 12th, 2015 10:34am
List 5 things you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell, 1 you can taste. Relax!
Anonymous
August 12th, 2015 5:12pm
Getting to know your emotions is beneficial in being able to have control over them. Also if you look objectively at your situation you should be able to identify and discover your emotions more clearly.
Anonymous
August 12th, 2015 6:39pm
The only way to do that is to figure out what your emotions are in order to control them, and if you still cannot figure them out try relaxation exercises to help you get through.
PaloP
August 13th, 2015 8:45am
First, stay calm. You need to stay in a calm statement, because you can think about your emotions in a better way that in an anxiety mood. When you begin to think about your emotions, try to trace the most important feelings that you feel in that moment. You find the answer by yourself.
Anonymous - Expert in Managing Emotions
August 13th, 2015 12:21pm
I can learn to control my emotions by being more aware of my surroundings and the triggers which may set them of. Some things can be avoided to suppress emotions. Some things MUST be faced and dealt with in a manner conducive to mental stability. Continually suppressed emotions tend to burst forward in an uncontrollable manner. It is ok to show emotion, it is ok to feel emotion. It is NOT ok when your emotion may cause harm to or damage another person. So, the best control is AWARENESS.
kittykat
August 13th, 2015 5:12pm
Emotions are temporary states of being, and it's very important to remember that they're temporary. Picture yourself as an empty conduit, and the emotion as a current running through it. Allow yourself to experience the emotion instead of repressing it, and let it run through you like a current rather than consuming you. It's okay if you don't have the words to describe how you feel - sometimes having the words isn't as important as letting yourself feel the emotion, and then letting it pass on.
livelaughlove84
August 13th, 2015 9:53pm
May I ask what you feel you need to control? When I had issues of emotions I was unable to control I began keeping a journal. How I felt, time of day, intensity etc.
Anonymous
August 14th, 2015 1:17am
Try and identify at least on emotion as hard as it could be! Write what ever comes to mind reread it and try to find an emotion to describe what you wrote.
petrichor1
August 14th, 2015 3:50pm
I know it seems impossible, but sometimes writing helps. Because you're able to channel your emotions to a piece of paper. Other times, just talking to someone helps because you're able to identify more clearly what the emotions are and can then go from there.
0LovelyHaven0
August 15th, 2015 9:12am
It's always good to talk to someone that will listen and recognize it with you thoughtfully carefully and slowly. You should always try to calm yourself down and try to think the whole process of whatever situation step by step and slowly. Keeping in check with your emotions, know what they are will lead to control to your emotions.
Anonymous
August 15th, 2015 8:03pm
Emotions are born by circumstances , I think felling empathy for oneself is important , how a person in my own circumstances would normally react? It seems like a meaningless practice , but is good to remember that sometimes we are our own worst critics , and feeling for others result easier , therefore the likeliness of end up with an accurate answer of what our really feelings are
tessamichelle
August 16th, 2015 5:58am
Think about the triggers you're facing in that situation. Once you feel a certain way you may be able to compare that to a prior situation resulting to a possible motive for your emotions.
lovexEmily
August 16th, 2015 3:03pm
Perhaps writing them down would help, listing the emotions as they come. So you can better understand what you're feeling. If you cannot pinpoint specific emotions in words maybe you could draw pictures to illustrate how you're feeling instead. Then from there understand where the emotions came from, like the trigger that caused it and then hopefully you can control your emotions better. :D
Fadi
August 16th, 2015 9:38pm
In my opinion first you should know yourself, second change your mood or do something different, then observe how others deal effectively with their emotions.
Nightwingsmom20
December 8th, 2015 4:37pm
Deep breathing and meditation are always a good place to start. Also, distracting yourself by exercising,writing, doing hobbies, singing, dancing and things of that nature usually help me get in control of my emotions even when I'm not quite sure what those emotions are.
Kimmelane
December 12th, 2015 8:31am
When you are experiencing a strong emotion, try to "look" at it inside your head. it sounds odd, but with practice you can become almost a bystander, watching your emotions from afar. By practicing this technique you can gain some distance from your emotions. Start with simple ones, like examining the feeling you experience when you pet a dog. Work up to examining stronger feelings, until you can take a step back from strong feelings also. When you reach this point, you may realize that you can choose your reactions to things. You don't have to let your emotions lead you around by the nose. This is also a good way to start learning how to identify your emotions.
happytohelpyou99
December 16th, 2015 4:28am
Consult a counsellor or psychologist by telling them your behavior and the experiences you've had.They should be able to infer and give u the appropriate help you need. If not,you can ask others around you on your display of emotions
UndulatingKyle
December 16th, 2015 3:24pm
Emotional intelligence is a natural skill for some, but an acquired skill for most. Sometimes writing down your feelings, and sorting through them can be a helpful way to assess your emotions Talking with someone is always an extremely useful way to help learn what emotions you are feeling and how to control and deal with them.
benevolentHeart55
December 16th, 2015 3:59pm
Just by listening to them, try and understand what they want to feel, listen to them. Just like you listen to a teacher or a friend.
royalCreature98
December 17th, 2015 2:56pm
Force youself to keep yourself busy with something that would make u happy or at least distracted from ur emotions till u get used to it and it becomes normal.